Wednesday morning, one of our U.S. Senators came to town to hear from his constituents. He is not up for reelection, so he really was just on what he called a "listening tour", giving people a chance to tell him their perspective. He started out by sharing a story about his recent trip to Iraq. He explained that he had been to Iraq every January since we had gone to war with them. Each time he had been flown in on a cargo plane, then quickly rushed onto a Blackhawk helicopter waiting on the airstrip. The Blackhawk would then fly low maneuvers into town to avoid radar detection and limit the chance a senator would be attacked. This January, though, after deboarding the cargo plane, he drove in a Chevy Suburban into town. He went to a plaza of store fronts that had been abandoned for years. He ate bread and drank "some of the stiffest coffee" he'd ever had at a coffee shop opened by two brothers. Twenty of the twenty-four stalls had stores now.
As I said, the story gave me hope. It gave me hope that things are truly improving in Iraq. It also gave me hope that most of our troops will be coming out. Right now, 500,000 Iraqi soldiers have been trained to take over the military and security enforcement in Iraq, and provincial government elections will be coming soon. Democracy seems to have found root in the Iraqi landscape. Here's hoping it flourishes.